Funds from the Exim Bank of India, earmarked for the Malé Commercial Port project initially proposed to go ahead at Gulhifalhu, will be reallocated across other projects after the Mohamed Muizzu administration decided to shift the development to Thilafushi, Minister of Finance Mohamed Shafeeq has said.

The estimated US$400 million (MVR 6.1 billion) required for a commercial port at Gulhifalhu, as was initially planned by the Ibrahim Mohamed Solih administration, was to have been financed via a US$800 million credit line from Exim Bank of India. However, with the shift in policy to establish the port at Thilafushi instead, Shafeeq, when asked what would happen to the funds allocated for the project, said they would be used for other projects.

“No funding will be lost and the money will be distributed to implement the most advantageous projects to the people and the economy,” he said.

The minister, however, did not specify which projects the funds would go to.

Shafeeq is believed to have been referring to projects implemented or planned with financing arranged through the Government of India as Exim Bank loans are issued for a specific project or purpose to facilitate businesses in the country where the bank is based.

Explaining why he decided to move the port to Thilafushi, President Muizzu said during the ceremony to announce the development of Velana International Airport (VIA), that Gulhifalhu was not suited for a commercial port.

“We will hopefully establish a fully international commercial port at Thilafushi. The development there will hopefully be linked to the airport development. As we envision, it will offer a very wide pathway for economic growth,” he had said.

President Muizzu had been advocating for the commercial port to be developed at Thilafushi instead of Gulhifalhu since his time as mayor of Malé, going so far as openly considering legal action to the effect.

The Solih administration, which had already initiated work, had already deployed a large amount of funds to reclaim a significant area at Gulhifalhu for the planned commercial port project, with the second phase of the reclamation alone set to cost MVR 2 billion.

With the Muizzu administration deciding to relocate the project to Thilafushi, it had been unclear how the necessary funds would be secured. However, the project was among the most promoted projects to investors during President Muizzu’s visit to China, administration officials confirm.

Reclamation work had already begun at Gulhifalhu — continuing to this day — when the Muizzu administration decided to shift the project to Thilafushi.